What have Yin and Yang Got to Do with Acupuncture?

In my last post but one I wrote about Yin and Yang and what they mean in the context of the human body. But I didn’t mention acupuncture. So how do Yin and Yang relate to this therapeutic practice? In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, Yin and Yang are fundamental. Imbalances in Yin and Yang in the body as a whole, or in a part of the body, cause disease. These imbalances can be corrected by the stimulation (by various means including the insertion of needles) of well-selected points located on “meridians” (energy channels) that run through the body. Such stimulation must be done at a few specific points among the 360+ points (depending on the authority) and in specific ways determined by the diagnosis, otherwise it will not work or may even make matters worse. In my view this is not so. The trouble with it is that if you go with your problem to several different acupuncturists from several different cultures (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, etc.) or schools of thought (or even the same culture and school of thought!) you will likely receive several different diagnoses and several different treatments, and all of them will be making a living and claiming good results with their patients. As I explain in my book, Acupuncture: A Stress-Based Model, the specificity of acupuncture treatment is overstated, and is largely an illusion. And as I explained in my post on Yin and Yang, I consider these to be useful linguistic concepts rather than universal forces. But let us get down to essentials, the essential bit where TCM theory and I agree with each other. Health is a question of physiological balance, which can be described in terms of Yin and Yang. When acupuncture is effective, it is because it has helped to restore physiological balance.

Copyright © Robert Hale 2021.

Image from Pxfuel.com. Reproduced with permission.

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